In some ways, it seems ironic that I got into the book business. For whatever reason, I never enjoyed the act of focusing my eyes on the printed page. However, at the age of 23 (1972), I became interested in the study of human nutrition and subsequently there was a period of about 10 years when I enjoyed a voracious appetite for books on the subject.
Along the way, I discovered Dr. Herbert Shelton. It was the spring of 1973 that I first came across one of his more popular books, Food Combining Made Easy. I was impressed with what seemed to me to be a sincere desire to educate his readers about nutrition and health. I continued to read more of his books, though they were not easy to find. (I was told by a few health food store owners that they didn't stock his books because he did not promote the popular "health food" fads of the day.) His words spoke to me like no other health writer had done so previously. I was so inspired by his teachings that I decided to do my part to promote them.
I first began selling his books in November 1976, taking orders for Natural Hygiene Press, the publishing segment of the American Natural Hygiene Society, which Dr. Shelton had helped form. These were my "hippy" days and I was doing all my traveling via my thumb. I hitchhiked around the state of Florida, then across the country to California, from San Diego to Eugene, Oregon. I would enter health food stores with a backpack on my shoulders and a briefcase in my hand, showing book samples and taking orders, then sending the orders to the publisher for fulfillment. In about 6 months I sold nearly 10,000 books.
My next endeavor in promoting Dr. Shelton's teachings brought me one step closer to the book business. It was the early 80's and I was living in Santa Cruz, California, where health food stores were practically on every corner. I took notice of the health books carried in these stores and noticed that Dr. Shelton's books were rarely found on the shelves. In fact, many of the concepts that were popular in the '70's like vegetarianism, raw foods, etc. were no longer met with such enthusiasm. (As I reflect on these times now, I think that one reason for this change may have been that as people from my generation were growing older and raising families, they were feeling more social pressure to conform to more conventional and moderate dietary practices.) Once again, I felt inspired to have an impact on the situation. Having practiced the principles of "food combining" since discovering it in Dr. Shelton's book about 10 years earlier, I decided to write my own simplified version of these principles, giving him full credit for their discovery.
In 1983, I bought an old typewriter at the flea market and typed out with one finger (I had forgotten all my typing lessons) the manuscript for Food Combining Simplified. A friend and I decided to self-publish the book and to then sell the book ourselves. We borrowed $2500 from family and friends and printed 20,000 copies in August of that year.
We called health food stores all across the country selling our book in a display along with a food combining postcard chart. We sold 40,000 copies the first year. After a few years of working together, I decided to go it alone and bought out my partner in 1986.
In 1988 I wrote and self-published my second booklet, Maximizing Your Nutrition. These two little books provided me with enough capital to expand my title selection. About 1990, I started adding other titles from publishers and learned the distribution business as I went along.